High Reproductive Rates Speed up Expansion of Wild Pig Population

Farmscape for May 9, 2019

A Professor with the University of Saskatchewan warns Canada's wild pig population is growing at a pace where the window of opportunity to bring it under control is closing.
Starting in about the mid-1980s, as part of the push to diversify agriculture, Eurasian wild boar were brought to Canada to be raised, primarily as a meat species.
Dr. Ryan Brook, a Professor in the College Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, says these animals are hard to keep inside a fence so there were a lot of escapes and in many cases producers experiencing financial problems intentionally cut their fences.

Clip-Dr. Ryan Brook-University of Saskatchewan:
We've been developing maps of the distribution of wild pigs in Canada and overall the spread is 80 thousand square kilometers per year over the last decade we've seen.
This is by water shed distribution of pigs across the landscape.
Importantly these are most hybrids with domestic pig.
One of the things that was told to most producers was that you cross that wild boar with a domestic pig, you get that extra rib, you get a longer animal, typically you get a bigger animal, higher reproductive rates.
While these animals look quite different, your classic wild boar has a long drawn out nose and is covered with heavy brown to red to even jet black fur, some you'll pink patches and some will be spotted and in some cases we've actually seen animals in the wild that were entirely pink.
By hybridizing them, unfortunately that helped to create them into super pigs that have very reproductive rates.
We're talking six young per litter and they're breeding almost continuously through the year.
There's not a lot of seasonality to it.
These animals are having litters, weaning off and then quickly reproducing again.

Dr. Brook says wild pigs cause extensive crop damage, they push livestock off of feed, impact ecosystems and they harbor disease.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Wonderworks Canada Inc